Between robots’ ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ zones, a sort of robot friend zone proposed


It goes without saying that working with robots and heavy machinery is more than a little dangerous. While better practices and ethical companies are still less common than they should be (as this excellent Bloomberg Businessweek piece describes), smarter robots are another, parallel solution. German research outfit Fraunhofer suggests an intuitive model for human-robot collaboration in industrial settings.

In many places where there are robots operating, there are basically two zones: a safe zone and an unsafe zone. Robots can move quickly and with great force, so basically anywhere within their reach is unsafe, and a designated area away from it is officially safe. Many robots won’t operate at all if someone enters the safe zone.

But when humans and robots need to interact…

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